Pesach (Passover) which occurs on the first day of Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is the first of HaShem’s appointed times of the biblical year. This week-long festival begins on the 15th day of Aviv (the first month of the biblical calendar) and concludes 7 days later at the end of Aviv 21.
- No chametz (leavened bread) allowed in any of your dwellings from the beginning of Aviv 15 at evening until the end of Aviv 21.
- Eat matza (unleaved bread) for 7 days.
- Work restrictions on the 1st and 7th day apply. These are the same restrictions as the weekly Shabbat except you are allowed to prepare food.
- No one who had not joined themselves into the congregation of HaShem was able to eat of it.
- A holy convocation the first and last days.
Remove All Chametz from your dwellings
We are commanded to have all chametz removed from our dwellings by the end of Aviv 14… Which is when the Pesach meal begins.
This includes your house, whether rented or owned, your car, your office, or your cubicle. Or any other place that is designated to you.
This is no small task and should be planned weeks in advance.
In addition to getting rid of food from the pantry and refrigerator (explained below), we also need to do our very best to clean any and all bread crumbs.
We need to:
- Clean all hard floors
- Vacuum all carpets
- Clean out the refrigerator and freezer
- Clean cupboards
- Clean behind the oven
- Clean toaster (do your best)
- Clean kitchen drawers and utensil trays
- Wipe down tables where you eat.
- Vacuum Couch Cushions
- Move furniture and clean behind it
- Ensure no dirty dishes are left in the dishwasher at Passover
- Clean Around beds (if you ever eat in bed)
- Clean inside computer keyboards
- Clean your vehicle
- Clean anything else you think could possibly have bread crumbs!
Make sure all of this is done in time before your next scheduled trash pickup so that none of the chametz that is being thrown away remains on the property. Alternatively, you can burn the chametz until it’s destroyed if you’re able. Or even better: If it’s unopened, donate it!
6 Forbidden Grains
Let’s start with the obvious: Remove any food that was made with any of the 6 following grains that have been exposed to liquid for more than 18 minutes: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt, and Millet. Exposure to liquid is pretty much a sure thing at some point in the cooking process when it comes to processed foods.
But flour is dry and wasn’t exposed to water right? Some flours would theoretically be ok but we have no way of knowing whether or not the grain was soaked, or otherwise exposed to water before it reached us.
Wheat berries are typically not soaked before storage so if you have wheat berries that have not been altered in any way, then it should be fine to keep those.
It’s worth noting that yeast in and of itself is not chametz. One of the 6 above-mentioned grains must come into contact with liquid and yeast or have been exposed to liquid and sat out for at least 18 minutes in order to begin attracting yeast from the environment.
But if you’re thinking it’s ok to keep the little active dry yeast packets, not so fast!
Let me explain…
The reason it’s necessary to throw out those packets is that we do not know the source of the yeast. Many yeast products were grown using flour and became chametz in the process. And once chametz, always chametz. So we need to get rid of those.
Yeast extract is a common ingredient found in processed foods. Theoretically, if you look on the back of a can of soup for example and you see Yeast Extract in the ingredients list but the contents do not include any of the 6 forbidden grains. It could theoretically be Kosher for Passover.
However, again with yeast extract, we don’t know the source of the yeast. But we know that it’s not uncommon to be created using processes that render it chametz.
So if you see Yeast or Yeast Extract in the ingredients list, it’s best we just get rid of it.
Vinegar is alcohol that has been refermented. The main concern we have is the source of the actual alcohol used in its production.
Alcohol that was produced using a permitted grain, such as corn, would be perfectly ok for Pesach. But which alcohol a company used in their production process is not always readily available information.
On the other hand, pure wine vinegar and pure apple cider vinegar as stand-alone products (as opposed to an ingredient listed on a food product) is pretty straightforward. Wine and apples are not forbidden and so we can hang on to those.
As for other types of vinegar, unless you’re 100% sure of the source of the alcohol then it’s really a risk to keep those.
So hang on to wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar if it’s in its pure form, but other types of vinegar or vinegar found in food products, we should get rid of those.
Baking Soda and Baking Powder
Many observers of Pesach consider baking soda and/or baking powder to be a loophole since these rising agents cause grains to rise through a chemical process rather than a biological process.
In fact, many of the food products labeled Kosher for Passover use baking soda or baking powder.
To me, this is pushing the limits a bit far, and is not worth it to put in all this work only to accidentally violate HaShem’s commands with what we think/hope might be a loophole.
Eat Matza for 7 days
For this, you’ll obviously need to get your hands on some Kosher for Passover matza. And eat at least a little (or a lot!) every day throughout the 7-day holiday.
To make things super simple you can buy premade matza from the local grocery store. Just always be sure that it says Kosher for Passover or has כשר לפסח somewhere on the box because, as odd as it may seem, matza is not always certified Kosher for Passover.
Alternatively, you can make your own but just be sure you’re using flour that is Kosher for Passover. I’ve never tried to make homemade matza myself so I can’t say much about it. Other than there are tons of recipes you can find on YouTube if you decide to go that route.
On the first and last day of Chag HaMatzot we are commanded not to do any ordinary work. This work restriction is the same as any weekly Shabbat with the same type of restrictions but with one key exception: We can prepare meals!
But it’s important to note that we are only allowed to prepare meals for food that we will eat and finish off the same day. That means no meal prepping for the week as that crosses over into unnecessary work.
This is a term you’ll see a lot in connection with HaShem’s holy days and this is commanded also for Chag HaMatzot.
I won’t go into too much detail as to the root word and how it’s used in other parts of the bible etc. I’ll just tell you how, based on my research, I believe this should be understood:
- A calling together (a meeting with others).
- A proclamation of the holy day.
- A reading of the Torah.
It’s for this reason that if at all possible, I believe it’s important to meet with others on the 1st and 7th day. It doesn’t have to be a huge congregation. The 1st-century believers often met with just a few people at a time in each others’ houses.
Remember, the church is the people. Not the building!
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
The Pesach Meal
- Meal begins at the start of Aviv 15 at evening.
- Include matza, bitter herbs, and wine*.
- Other food can be included to make it a full meal.
- Eat in a hurry.
- Remember how HaShem brought his people out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery.
- Use a Haggadah (a seder guide) to help walk you through.
*Wine is traditional and not commanded in the Torah so skip this if you want.
The Pesach lamb was normally slaughtered on Aviv 14 at around 3 PM. This gave them enough time to have it done before sundown when the Pesach meal began. Everything should be prepared by the end of Aviv 14 and Pesach immediately begins at sundown which is the beginning of Aviv 15.
On our modern calendar, Aviv 15 usually falls somewhere in March or April. To see when it begins this year, check our Biblical Calendar.
Matza, Bitter Herbs and Wine
As mentioned above, you’ll need to get some matza for Pesach as well as for the rest of the week. You can buy this at your local store or even order on Amazon.
Bitter herbs are something else you’ll need for the Pesach meal. This is to remind us of the bitter taste of slavery and so it is not supposed to taste good by any means.
Horseradish is the most common bitter root that I’ve seen. Just buy it in its raw form, cut away the skin, slice it into small servings, and really focus on its harsh taste when you eat it.
Wine is traditional and not commanded in the Torah. But it sure makes the feast and the whole week feel more celebratory which is the whole purpose. Just make sure that when you buy wine it’s marked Kosher for Passover. I strongly recommend Mogen David Concord.
Include Other Foods if You’d Like
Following a traditional Jewish Seder is a good place to start for a beginner. There are several out there that include Yeshua which I would highly recommend doing. If you do decide to follow a seder, it will include other certain foods that all have some traditional meaning.
But you can also add some of your favorite foods to complete the feast. Just be sure not to include lamb as Yeshua is our Passover lamb. Instead, a lamb bone is often added instead.
Eat the Pesach Meal in a Hurry
In Exodus 12:11 HaShem told the Israelites to eat the meal with their cloaks tucked into their belt, shoes on their feet, and staff in hand. And they were to eat it in a hurry.
So what this means for us today is we are to tuck in our shirt and wear a belt and wear shoes on our feet. Staffs aren’t common anymore so you won’t see people holding those during Pesach. But if you wanted to include one it would be an interesting addition to the seder!
Remember What HaShem Did
During the Pesach meal, this is where we should read the story of the Exodus and internalize what HaShem did when He delivered His people from slavery.
Additionally, it’s important that we understand how that prophetic event pointed to the salvation that would come later in Yeshua.
Use a Haggadah
A Haggada (a Passover seder guide) is usually used to help guide people through the Passover seder. For the beginner, it’s an essential. Just make sure you find one that includes Yeshua because most do not.
After a quick Google search, I came across this Haggadah that seems to tick all the boxes.
So there you have it. That’s my attempt to explain everything you need to know to observe HaShem’s Chag HaMatzot properly.
Outside of that which was commanded by HaShem, the rest of the seder comes from tradition. So whether or not you want to include those things is of course entirely up to you.
If I missed anything or if you have any questions, please contact me and I will do my best to help.
And remember, when we follow Torah it is pleasing to HaShem. So please help spread these commands and bring others closer to our Lord by sharing this and my other articles with others!
What if I discover chametz after Aviv 15?
This situation is not covered in the Torah. However, erring on the side of caution, I would immediately discard it no matter if it was found before or sometime after the 7-day timeframe.
Should I base my Pesach meal on a traditional Jewish seder?
Pesach can be daunting for a beginner. There is nothing wrong with using a traditional seder as a guide. But I would really try to find a Haggadah (seder guide) that includes Yeshua in the process.
Should my Pesach meal include lamb?
Yeshua is now our Pesach lamb. For this reason, I believe we should avoid eating lamb and instead include some other type of meat to make it a full meal.
Why do most other sources say to remove only 5 grains and do not include millet?
Tests conducted on millet were shown to ferment if left for long enough (2-3 days). Any flour that rises, no matter how long it takes, must be excluded.
Why do some sources call the first month of the biblical calendar Nisan rather than Aviv?
Aviv is the original name in the bible used for the first month. The new month names which come from the Babylonian calendar became popular during the Babylonian captivity.
Can I sell/give away chametz before Passover and take it back after?
Many people do just that as a bit of a loophole. I’m not a fan of loopholes and I believe this violates the purpose of the commands.